August 21, 2008

Hope For Abandoned Whale Calf Dwindling

Experts on Wednesday said an abandoned baby humpback whale discovered in a bay north of Sydney had just days to live.

The Australian media named the young whale "Collin," after it was apparently abandoned by its mother off the east coast of Australia.

On Wednesday, Collin was spotted trying to find milk from a moored yacht, which it had mistaken for its missing mother. Whale rescue experts in the U.S. said confirmed that the whale could not be saved and would have to be put down unless it could be paired with a migrating whale pod.

"I guess it's fair to say that we're getting close to that position at the moment. We're really, really hopeful that there can be some other possible way through," Environment Department spokesman John Dengate told Australian radio.

On Monday a team of workers towed the private yacht out to sea to try to lure the calf into deeper water, hoping that it would find its mother or another passing whale pod, but it was spotted close to the beach at Pittwater again on Tuesday.

The local manager for the New South Wales state national parks service, Chris McIntosh said it was natural for some animals to abandon their young.

McIntosh said experts would decide on Thursday whether to put down the whale with a large dose of anesthetic, noting that chances of it surviving past Monday without milk were 100 to one.

Whale calves generally only survived five to seven days without their mothers, he said.

"Assuming it's separated from its mother from Saturday, we are at about day five," he said.

Whale pods are frequent visitors to Sydney's beaches as they complete their annual migration to the Antarctic and back to breed in warmer waters off Australia's northern coast.


Image Caption: File Photo / Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaeangliae / Courtesy NOAA